The Boys 72 (November 2012)

And what does Ennis do for the finish? Pretty much exactly what I figured he’d do. There’s nothing really new to it, except maybe some gesture of humanity from the corporate jerk, which makes one wonder why Ennis bothered. Darick Robertson comes back (with assists from Richard P. Clark). It makes sense, since Robertson created the series with Ennis, only Russ Braun’s been doing the book for ages…. Having Robertson back doesn’t remind of the good times. For better or worse, Ennis broke the comic to the point nothing could fix it. The new and improved Hughie is a laughable … Continue reading The Boys 72 (November 2012)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 6 (December 2011)

Ennis ends the series, his summing up of Butcher, with a quote from Unforgiven. He also includes a reference to himself in the comic, apparently when he was trying to get work at the superhero companies back in the eighties. Anyway, ending on a quote from Unforgiven just shows how little Ennis cares about this comic. I knew he didn’t care when he totally skipped over a Boys version of Spider-Man, which would have been awesome… at least if Ennis had been doing it towards the beginning of the run, before he’d lost interest. What’s so amazing about the quote–I … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 6 (December 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 5 (November 2011)

Mallory shows up–the first time Robertson has drawn him–and the series becomes about what I expected in the second half. Sadly the first half mostly consists of Butcher reading his wife’s diary where she talks about the Homelander attacking her. The diary goes on and on for pages. Not sure why Ennis thinks anyone would believe Mrs. Butcher had no idea what Butcher saw in her, which is how he ends the diary reading. It’s like he had the diary as one thing and then the character in two issues of the comic as someone else entirely. It’s weak writing. … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 5 (November 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 4 (October 2011)

I have to give it to Ennis, he does come up with one hectic of a death scene for Butcher’s wife. I always assumed it was something similar to Hughie’s but no. Ennis and Robertson pace that sequence beautifully. The way Ennis gets there though, it has some problems. One of the things Butcher does, regardless of its problems, is bring the reader out of the Boys universe. It’s Margaret Thatcher, it’s Falklands War, it’s real. Bringing in the superheroes at the end without any context… it’s jarring and it reminds the reader Ennis is just doing this series to … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 4 (October 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 3 (September 2011)

Why am I reading this comic? It’s a family drama this issue–oh, wait, Butcher meets the greatest woman in the world and she totally changes his life with her patience and inner beauty. Of course her death would send him over the cliff–she doesn’t die here, it’s way too soon, but I do think Ennis has established she does die. It’s like a happy scene in a soap opera, page after page, over and over again. Ennis is completely incapable of writing these scenes honestly. I wonder if he had someone give him a list of trite romantic blather for … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 3 (September 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 2 (August 2011)

This issue is a bit of a summary nightmare. The opening stuff with the Falklands is okay, though Ennis has covered a lot of the same territory with Born. Butcher turns out to be a natural born killer, which should get him in more trouble than it does–and it might even do so, but Ennis falls back on summary for the last half of the issue. When his family–not the dad though–shows up in the last few pages, I’d forgotten they were still around, like maybe they’d died at some point between the first and second issues and Ennis just … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 2 (August 2011)

Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 1 (July 2011)

Besides the vaguely obviously device of Butcher narrating his tale to his dead father (in his casket, no less), Garth Ennis does a fairly decent job with this issue. In some ways, leaving Butcher a mystery–instead of giving him Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker (way too cute)–would have been better. However, given Ennis opens with Falklands War and then goes back to Butcher’s childhood in the seventies? It works. Ennis’s big problem with The Boys is his lack of interest. He had a gimmick, he got tired of it, but he didn’t create characters strong enough to support a series without continuously … Continue reading Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker 1 (July 2011)

The Maze Agency 17 (December 1990)

It’s a religious cult mystery, along with some teenage lovers–one being the daughter of Jennifer’s friend. Barr doesn’t pause on his contrivances (it’s not just the daughter, but also Gabe’s religious history), just moves full steam ahead. Only the setting is terrible and the characters all act really dumb. Maybe not Gabe and Jennifer, but the daughter gets busted running around with her boyfriend and her parents stay in the woods, which causes the rest of the issue’s events. It’s way too easy. There’s a little character stuff between Gabe and Jennifer, only their romance has become boring. Barr doesn’t … Continue reading The Maze Agency 17 (December 1990)

The Boys 42 (May 2010)

Robertson has help on the art from Richard P. Clark. Not sure it’s actually help, given there are some really weak panels. Especially towards the end. Yeah, so… the end of Super Duper arc. Ennis introduces the ultra violence of The Boys into the Super Duper household and it terrifies the kids. Butcher terrifies the kids, almost as much as the villain does. And it might show the problem with this approach in the series. Ennis never really spends time with real people–at least not ones with real emotions–and so, when he does, it breaks the way the comic works. … Continue reading The Boys 42 (May 2010)

The Boys 41 (April 2010)

Butcher’s suspicions–instead of him just resolving them–play out with spying and so on. It makes him less of a character. Ennis is now playing him for laughs. It’s a very strange misfire. The best scene in the comic isn’t actually with any of the Boys. Well, except a funny flashback. Otherwise, the best scene is when the sincere den mother of Super Duper talks down the team’s new leader. Ennis is actually really good at sincerity, though he seems embarrassed about it. Also trying is all the dating stuff with Annie and Hughie. Way to suck the life out of … Continue reading The Boys 41 (April 2010)

The Boys 40 (March 2010)

Ennis takes the Butcher finding out about Hughie and Annie thing in an unexpected direction. It makes Butcher suspicious Hughie’s a double agent, which leads to a couple lengthy talking heads scenes of Hughie being normal and Butcher being suspicious. The first such scene is fine. The second’s practically unbearable. It just goes on and on. There’s also some stuff with the bad corporate guys talking about the Homelander. Ennis is setting up for something big down the line and not being coy about it. And he introduces another super team–Super Duper. They’re his riff on the original Legion of … Continue reading The Boys 40 (March 2010)

The Maze Agency Annual 1 (August 1990)

The annual has three stories. The first has Rick Magyar, Darick Robertson and William Messner-Loebs illustrating a Spirit homage. It’s a lot of fun; Barr’s script for it is very fast. Gabe’s on a mission, runs into Jennifer, both having Spirit references in their appearance. It’d be impossible to tell the story without the art angle. Very nice opening. Sadly, the second story just goes on and on. Allen Curtis is a mediocre artist and Barr asks him to do a lot. The mystery involves a corpse in a moving box. It takes forever to get going, then Barr rushes … Continue reading The Maze Agency Annual 1 (August 1990)

The Boys 38 (January 2010)

Lots of jokes for the Female’s origin too. Frenchie has to tell it to Hughie, but there’re a few implications it’s an accurate retelling. Ennis plays it for violence and for laughs. The Female ingests the superhero juice as a baby, which leads to her being a caged killing machine from birth. She escapes, learns of the world, gets recaptured. During one of those outings, Ennis does an homage to Aliens with one of the fire team repeating all of Bill Paxton’s memorable lines. Very funny. He opens the issue with humor too, about the Female’s family history. Those parts … Continue reading The Boys 38 (January 2010)

The Boys 37 (December 2009)

Ennis tells Frenchie’s story, which he does mostly for laughs. Robertson gets the humor well–the setting, a tranquil French village, helps a lot. There aren’t any surprises–Hughie even goes so far as to doubt its veracity–and only a couple real standouts. The first is short but awesome. As Frenchie recounts a touching summer love affair, Robertson’s art shows its baser reality. Might also be funnier because Frenchie’s mom and dad are in the room. The second bit comes at the end, a little in-joke for Ennis readers. He repeats a moment from “Preacher,” only this time the Frenchman is the … Continue reading The Boys 37 (December 2009)

The Boys 36 (November 2009)

Once again, Ennis avoids the big question the flashback raises. Hughie and Mother’s Milk are still talking–I think Hughie went for coffee–and there’s a bit more back story. Not a lot. Ennis skips about fourteen years. He does get in a big fight scene, which Robertson draws quite well. But the issue–as none of the Mother’s Milk stuff really matters–is about the plans to put up the Freedom Tower in New York. Or whatever it’s going to be called. Ennis is using The Boys to talk about it being a dumb idea; given the last page, one would assume he’d … Continue reading The Boys 36 (November 2009)

The Boys 35 (October 2009)

Ennis gets to Mother’s Milk’s story–and hints at something to do with the Female’s. M.M.’s story is a doozy. Ennis takes a somewhat traditional story–the giant corporation knowingly poisoning people with toxic waste–and adds the superhuman element. It’s devastating at times, even with some of the more amusing visuals. It’s like Ennis and Robertson are setting up jokes, then knocking the reader for being shallow enough to prepare for them. The only real problem is how Mother’s Milk tells the story. He just tells Hughie. It’s not just without prompting, Hughie’s busy asking about other things. M.M. just ignores those … Continue reading The Boys 35 (October 2009)

The Boys 30 (May 2009)

Ennis brings back a little of the series’s jovial spirit (jovial in a disturbed sense, of course), but not much of it. He splits the issue between the Boys as they recover from the events of the previous issue and the evil company guys. The issue starts with an entirely unexpected, awful moment, but Ennis eases his way into it; he removes the shock value. But he does get that shock value for the finish. There’s a lot of possible foreshadowing, a bit with Hughie’s emotional trauma; Mother’s Milk has the best scene in the issue. Until the shock finish, … Continue reading The Boys 30 (May 2009)

The Boys 29 (April 2009)

I think I reread the finish to this issue five times. You want to go through and pick out the people dying so you can enjoy it. Ennis never did find a story for this arc. It’s seven issues to have a brief conversation between Butcher and the evil corporate. The whole G-Men thing is something of a red herring; Ennis even finds a way to make the reader feel bad for enjoying it. His ability to suck the humor out of the situation–and even the memory of the previous issues’ humor–is astounding. Robertson’s art is great. He’s got a … Continue reading The Boys 29 (April 2009)

The Boys 27 (February 2009)

Yeah, once again… not entirely sure why Ennis is dragging out this arc. Mother’s Milk’s investigation is downright interesting–the G-Men kidnap kids and shoot them up with the compound to turn them into G-kids or whatever–but there’s nothing else in the issue. Butcher and Hughie both have Saint Patrick’s Day adventures. Hughie’s with the G-Wiz guys for a while; he comes up with an interesting explanation for their behavior. Ennis is branching out from X-Men jokes this issue, really considering things, but it’s unclear why. The G-Men seem like an aside. Butcher’s Saint Patrick’s Day–Hughie eventually joins him–is basically jokes … Continue reading The Boys 27 (February 2009)

The Boys 25 (December 2008)

There have been insightful parodies of Superman and Batman before–Ennis has done them in The Boys–but his take on Professor X is something unexpected. This whole “G-Men” arc is unexpected, but Ennis has an observation about Professor G I didn’t see coming. X-Men keep resurrecting because Professor X is a nut. Obviously, that observation isn’t accurate (comic publishing realities), but it does say something about the end product. Besides that moment–and some amusing stuff at the G-Mansion where Ennis gets to make fun of the X-Men a little–there’s not much to Hughie’s plot in this issue. Sure, it’s funny, but … Continue reading The Boys 25 (December 2008)

The Boys 24 (November 2008)

At first, I was going to concentrate on Ennis using Animal House as the model for his X-Men teenage team knock-off. I haven’t read a teen X-Men book in a while, but I can’t believe Marvel would ever have the stones to do it so honestly. The knockoff scenes are funny enough (and very self-aware), but Ennis uses them to lead into Hughie and Annie’s romance subplot. But then I realized this issue of The Boys might be the first where Ennis evenly distributes time between the cast. Hughie’s undercover, Butcher is hanging out with the Legend (they’re talking in … Continue reading The Boys 24 (November 2008)

The Boys 23 (October 2008)

Well, Ennis gets to ripping on Marvel and, wow, does it ever go well for him. He goes for the X-Men, which I didn’t expect. There’s a lot about their popularity and the number of teams and so on. It’s all quite well-done. There’s a definite change in tone (from DC to Marvel)–the Boys have a different kind of target. It’s nice Ennis is able to toggle between the two companies. I hadn’t expected him to cover the X-Men at all, much less so deftly. There are a couple good subplot starts–these scenes are the issue’s more seriously–but the last … Continue reading The Boys 23 (October 2008)

The Boys 22 (August 2008)

I’m not sure I get the point of Annie having to fend off a rape attempt from one of her teammates. Sure, it makes her closer to Hughie–and the Wonder Woman chick–but Ennis cliffhangs with Butcher finding video of her first assault. It feels more like he’s trying to fill pages, especially since there’s very little with the history lesson. Hughie’s still with the Legend, still hearing the stories, but they’re not interesting stories. The Legend’s final comment is the biggest surprise in the issue, but it’s still just Ennis going for a cheap surprise. Speaking of cheap, Matt Jacobs’s … Continue reading The Boys 22 (August 2008)

The Boys 21 (August 2008)

The Boys has been gross, it’s been mean, it’s been disturbing, but Ennis is at his most relentlessly depressing here. The superhero team tries to stop the last plane on 9/11 to disastrous results. There’s not even humor to the “funny” parts, because it’s just too much. Ennis apparently set out to make an event worse than the actual one. Robertson does well on the art. There’s implied conflict for the Wonder Woman analog and most of it comes from the art. Ennis–possibly unintentionally–moves the series into a new position. Before, it was funny (clean or dirty) send-ups of familiar–DC–superheroes. … Continue reading The Boys 21 (August 2008)

The Boys 20 (July 2008)

Ennis continues his recounting of superheroes in Boys world. It goes reasonably well–Butcher gets laugh during his chat with the Superman guy–but Ennis is too obvious with some of the other stuff. He’s got Annie in trouble with one of her teammates, only she doesn’t know it yet. Foreshadowing! Maybe it’s Robertson. His quality is up and down this issue. At one point I thought he was doing an homage to young John Byrne, but after a few more awkward panels, I realized he’s just rushing. The exposition still works, but the story’s not compelling enough. Ennis needs real wow … Continue reading The Boys 20 (July 2008)

The Boys 19 (June 2008)

Ennis opens with a war story–well, at least a few pages of one–and it’s nice to see he and Robertson doing it. Ennis’s zeal for the genre (along with his cynicism) play well in The Boys‘s flashback, as the Legend tells Hughie all about the history of superheroes. This issue covers until the Vietnam War and a little beyond, but I was mostly just wondering about the cover date and when Irredeemable started. You can only do so much with Superman analogues, sure, but…. There’s also some stuff with Butcher facing off with said Superman analogue, which might end up … Continue reading The Boys 19 (June 2008)

The Boys 18 (May 2008)

It’s a little more traditional issue of The Boys. More traditional because Ennis returns to the series being about Butcher and Hughie, which he’s been moving away from a little. There’s still the other stuff, he just focuses on them for the finish. The cliffhanger resolution is good–Ennis actually paces it over about half the issue. It’s a satisfactory payoff, mostly because of the unexpected ways Ennis extends it. He’s able to make the absurdly, darkly, disturbingly comedic touching. The Boys, so far, is Ennis at his most tender. There’s a little of the Mother’s Milk subplot; again, it feels … Continue reading The Boys 18 (May 2008)

The Boys 17 (April 2008)

Ennis is a funny, funny man. Even when he’s being cruel, he’s funny. He’s also come up with a good way–maybe–to excuse Hughie for killing that awful teenage superhero again. The teen hero is now a zombie and pitiful, but Ennis figured it out. The issue’s mostly split between Hughie and Annie. She’s spying on her teammates, he’s working on his assignment with the teenage sidekicks. They meet up at the park and then Ennis comes up with another hilarious scene. One has to wonder if he just writes them down as they come to him and fits them into … Continue reading The Boys 17 (April 2008)

The Boys 16 (March 2008)

Something about the Frenchman this issue makes me wonder if he’s supposed to be some kind of homage to Steve Dillon. Robertson draws him, in his big moment–the Frenchman’s first in the series–with a very Steve Dillon-esque nose. He and the Female get a lot of time this issue. The less nice way of saying it is Ennis finally gets around to them. While the Frenchman and the Female basically share the same plot, Hughie has his own continue with Annie. He’s also got the one where he’s supposed to take out the annoying teen superhero again. Butcher, however, has … Continue reading The Boys 16 (March 2008)